Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Fireflies, Tarantellas, Love, Letting go...Meditation on Today's Writer's Almanac Poem

Poem: ""Fireflies" by Richard Newman from Borrowed Towns. © Word Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


Tonight my yard is full of fireflies—
a glitterfest of green, blinking by hundreds,
exactly like last year, when she and I
drove out into the Missouri countryside
to talk about our marriage. It was thick
with greenery. The air was hot and thick,
and we had decided to try and stay together,
though by first light she'd changed her mind again,
and, to be honest, our eleventh hour
hope and promise lacked the weight of truth.
We wandered off the rocky dirt road
over weeds and brambles, through branches
and spiderwebs, and pressed into a clearing,
and it was like a pocket in the darkness
that surrounded us-the misty night
backlit with thousands of glittering fireflies
bettering the stars. It was a mating dance,
and we gazed into a sputtering green sea
of desire-such irresistible beckoning.
Ours was, too-a death-dance of mating,
a slower, indecisive tarantella,
and she asked me never to write about this,
but I knew then that I had nothing to lose,
that at that moment there was nothing I wanted
more than to write about the fireflies.

To be ablaze in light. To illuminate fully in the dark. To steady yourself and fly directly toward love. To be captured, die contained....

I think about all these things reflecting on Richard Newman's poem. I recall being 7 or 8 and outside at our rural house in Norfolk, Nebraska. It's dark, and I'm with my brother Ben, maybe a cousin Kristi or Jeff. We have jars. We are searching, seeking these blazing and buzzing insects: creatures of air, wings, fire. We want to make lanterns. We want this light all for ourselves. All to ourselves.

And how is this like our journeys in love?
How much are we the fireflies? How much are we seeking that magic, mystery of possessing illumination?
What do our dances look like in falling in and out of love?

I know the poem extends beyond this image of fireflies. I love how Newman casts this evening with other creatures and aspects of landscape. The web, the bramble, the tarantualla, that green sea of desire, the death-dance of mating. Whew! He's not playing around with words and emotion and who we are moving in and out of love.

I'm happiest thinking of the light, the wings, the night, and the notion of having "nothing to lose."


Happy contemplating,

No comments: